As an alternative to virtual machines, containers on Linux systems have been slowly gaining traction as of late. Containers essentially split operating systems into two components. The lower level manages traditional operating system functions such as systems resources. The upper level provides a portable set of run-time engines where application images are managed.
Now Docker, Inc. is looking to turn the traction that containers have been getting into a full-scale movement. The company this week announced the formal release of the Docker 1.0 container for Linux environments.
Announced at the Dockercon 2014 conference, the Docker container, now known as Docker engine, provides a standard container for Linux environments. Every version of Linux has provided access to containers as an alternative to virtual machines for years. Docker is trying to increase the usage of containers by making it simpler to move application workloads across a common container platform.
Scott Johnston, senior vice president of product for Docker, says that Docker also plans to extend the functionality of containers to the Windows and Apple Macintosh environments. By installing a lightweight version of Linux as a guest operating system running on top of a virtual machine, containers will become portable across platforms.
Docker has also created a Docker Enterprise Support program and launched Docker Hub, a cloud-based environment through which IT organizations can store and share workflows and other Docker-related content. Currently, 14,000 Docker applications are stored in Docker Hub. Docker has also created Official Repositories, a suite of “Dockerized” applications that are available to all Docker Hub users. The repository currently consists of 13 applications.
Johnston says for certain classes of lightweight applications, containers fundamentally provide a much easier way to maximize server utilization. It remains to be seen just how broadly containers are adopted as a lighter-weight alternative to virtual machines. But the one thing that is for certain is that going forward, it’s more than likely that IT organizations are probably going to wind up managing just as many or more containers as they do virtual machines today.